We all start the year with the best intentions of staying healthy. We plan to eat a better diet, and hit the gym twice a week. Unfortunately, it’s usually around March that those new habits begin to fall short. Perhaps you’ve already given up already! If that sounds familiar, we’re here today to kick start your year again. It’s time to re-energise, and give yourself some momentum back. We’ll start with some simple steps, and look at everything from diet to exercise to mental health
Here at CQWen, we don’t believe you need to start a crazy diet, or sign up to any intense boot camp classes. Instead, you need a simple, realistic, and sustainable plan for your health. This long-term plan is the key to good health and a longer life. It’s the only way you’ll develop habits that stick with you throughout life. A rapid process of craze diets won’t provide a stable or healthy way to live. In this post, we’ll make sure everything is achievable and realistic. Let’s start with your diet.
Eat a balanced diet – Like we said, we’re not suggesting you start a craze diet. We’ve all tried the Atkins or Paleo diet in the past. Sure, they work well for a little while. But, seriously, how long can you keep eating the same dull meal every night? It’s not going to happen. Instead, stick to a simple, balanced diet. Try to reduce or cut out sugars and salts. Our bodies aren’t really evolved to deal with them, so we turn them into fat stores. Try to cut down on traditional carbs too, replace them with complex carbohydrates and protein instead. A simple way to get a balanced diet is to eat a colourful plate. The more colourful your food, the better range of nutrients you’re getting.
Drink water – H20 is the closest thing to a magic serum or miracle cure we have available. Water is a life-giving mineral, and it helps improve all aspects of our health. First of all, it keeps us hydrated, which is great for our general energy levels, and brain function. It also keeps our digestive system flowing effectively. Water keeps all the cells in your body plump and hydrated. That means healthier looking skin, and general better health. Doctors suggest aiming for 2 litres every day. We’ll bet that’s more than your normal consumption!
Cut down on alcohol – We’re all aware of the health problems associated with alcohol. It damages the liver and slowly brings down your brain function. Not to mention, it gives you a banging headache the next day! When it comes to alcohol, we take the approach that everything in moderation is okay. The daily suggested limit is one glass of wine. A quick drink with your evening meal or a nightcap isn’t going to harm your body is a big way. However, drinking too late at night may interrupt your sleep pattern.
Stop smoking – The ‘everything in moderation’ rule does not, however, extend to smoking. Smoking is intrinsically linked to all manner of dangerous health problems. The most prominent of which being lung cancer. Smoking drastically increases your risk of developing cancer, and should be avoided entirely. There is also an increased risk of heart disease and heart failure. All in all, smoking will reduce your energy and ability to exercise. If you want to live a long and healthy life, it’s simply not worth it.
Take supplements – It’s very difficult indeed to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need with a good diet alone. No matter how hard we try, we’ll always miss something. That’s where vitamins and supplements are a great way fill the gap. Healthy supplements include multivitamins, herbal extracts, and cod liver oil. Think about what elements you’re missing from your diet, and use supplements to add them in. It might just give you a boost of energy, and improve your all-round health.
Cut out the snacks – When we think about a healthy diet, we imagine plates of vegetables and fruit. However, the biggest problem for most people isn’t the main meals, it’s the snacking! We’re all guilty of grazing on snacks during the day, or over-indulging in the evenings. After all, you’ve had a tough day, right? Again, it’s all about taking everything in moderation. It doesn’t hurt to treat yourself once in awhile, but try to avoid regular snacking. Eating between meals is one of the fastest ways to put on weight and damage your health. Try replacing your usual snacks with nuts and raisins if you’re struggling!
Yoga – We all know the importance of staying active in our lives. Yet, very few of us find the time (or the inclination) to do so. In our experience, it’s always best to start small. Committing to three jobs a week if you’re not used to it will only end badly. A great way to start is with small amounts of yoga. It’s a fantastic way to stretch your muscles, and strengthen your core. It burns a ton of calories, and drastically improves your general strength. It also helps you find a little peace of mind during the day. Try it first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or during your lunch hour.
Regular light exercise – Don’t worry, we’re not going to force you into bootcamp or ask you to run a marathon. We don’t think that setting unrealistic goals or unessarily pushing your body to the limit is the answer. While it works for some people, others simply don’t care for that level of intensity! Doctors recommend you need to raise your heart rate for half an hour three times a week. Now, that doesn’t seem so difficult does it. If you’re a beginner, that could simply mean a brisk walk to and from work. It could mean hopping on the bike at the weekend or going for a short jog. Break it down into small parts, but some exercise is essential.
Get outside – Simply getting out into the great outdoors will do you the world of good. It’s great for the body, and even better for the mind. A key part of staying active is heading outside, and soaking up the world around you. Use the weekend to go for a walk in the countryside. Get back to nature, and breathe in the fresh natural air. It’s great for your lungs, and it’s good exercise. Best of all, it helps clear your mind, and get you out of the rat race. Try to do this a couple of times every month to get some perspective on life.
Maintaining your mental health
Lower your stress – Mental health is rarely talked about with as much gravity as bodily health. However, it is just as important. It’s easy to shrug off your stress and accept it as part of your life. What you might not know is that stress has very real health problems. The buildup of stress leads to tension in the neck and back. It can lead to posture problems, and ultimately you may develop chronic and severe pain. Worse, it actively leads to heart problems and blood pressure issues. Take active steps to lower your stress levels at work and home. Find time for yourself, make room for regular exercise, and cut out unnecessary stresses.
Get plenty of sleep – Sleep is an essential aspect of our health. During the night, our bodies use this time to repair and re-energise. If you cut this process short, you’ll forever feel exhausted, and your body will take longer to heal. While asleep, the body regenerates cells in the body and in the brain; and it fights of any illnesses and bacteria. Many of us cut our sleep cycles short, however, we should each aim for between 7-8 hours every night. Try getting to bed a little earlier each night, and enjoy the benefits. You’ll feel more energy, and reduce your chances of picking up illnesses.
Spend less time online – Studies show that spending our lives locked to a computer screen isn’t good for our mental health. Reports show links between online activity and the gradual onset of depression and anxiety. To maintain your mental health, try to strike a balance between the online and offline world. It’s particularly important in the hours before you fall asleep. Looking at a smartphone screen or laptop before sleeping results in a poor night’s sleep.
Socialise – Our brains respond positively to social engagement. Even for introverts who don’t always relish social activity, it’s essential that you find time for friends and family. This social activity releases chemicals in our brain called endorphins. It’s a boost of feel-good chemicals, and it helps us avoid depression and anxiety. Even a simple phone call to your friends or family each day will help. Many of you certainly won’t need an excuse to socialise! But for others, make sure you break up your working week with some down-time.
That’s all for now, folks! Thanks for reading our complete guide to boosting your health. Until next time!